05/13/2009

Fla. border agents use high-tech aircraft to zero in on smugglers

By Luis F. Perez
Sun-Sentinel

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — They can spot the smile on a smuggler's face from 10,000 feet in the air; record real-time, full-color video of his run for shore; and simultaneously track 5,000 ships spread over a 193-mile swath of ocean.

Flying high above the Atlantic Ocean about halfway between Florida and the Bahamas, the latest addition to the government's anti-smuggling arsenal can track the trajectory of a boat leaving Cuba and compare it -- in seconds -- to every filed course plan for vessels on the water. And, if the boat seems suspicious, the computer will race through the complicated calculations of course, speed and relative positions to tell the nearest Coast Guard vessel the bearings to follow to intercept it.

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